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History of the United States by Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard
» PART VI. NATIONAL GROWTH AND WORLD POLITICS
» CHAPTER XVIII

«·CHAPTER XVIII · The Railways As Trail Blazers·»


THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE GREAT WEST

At the close of the Civil War, Kansas and Texas were sentinel states on the middle border. Beyond the Rockies, California, Oregon, and Nevada stood guard, the last of them having been just admitted to furnish another vote for the fifteenth amendment abolishing slavery. Between the near and far frontiers lay a vast reach of plain, desert, plateau, and mountain, almost wholly undeveloped. A broad domain, extending from Canada to Mexico, and embracing the regions now included in Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, the Dakotas, and Oklahoma, had fewer than half a million inhabitants. It was laid out into territories, each administered under a governor appointed by the President and Senate and, as soon as there was the requisite number of inhabitants, a legislature elected by the voters. No railway line stretched across the desert. St. Joseph on the Missouri was the terminus of the Eastern lines. It required twenty-five days for a passenger to make the overland journey to California by the stagecoach system, established in 1858, and more than ten days for the swift pony express, organized in 1860, to carry a letter to San Francisco. Indians still roamed the plain and desert and more than one powerful tribe disputed the white man’s title to the soil.


«·CHAPTER XVIII · The Railways As Trail Blazers·»